RealTime IT News

Amazon Changes Product and Layoff Policies

On the heels of announcing significant layoffs, beleaguered Amazon is also expected to trim its product offerings.

In a companywide memo, the e-tailing giant said it would 'turbo-charge' its core book business and discontinue sales of unprofitable items, according to the Wall Street Journal. Further, it is anticipated that the Seattle-based marketer will investigate selling electronic products in Japan and Europe.

In related news, Amazon.com has dropped the non-disclosure clause from its layoff package. The company had originally told its laid-off workers that they would each receive an extra six weeks' pay and $500 by inking an agreement that included a promise to not make disparaging remarks about their former employer.

"We listened to our employees," said Bill Curry, Amazon.com spokesman. "They're going through a difficult time right now and we decided that, if it was causing that much additional pain for them, the better thing to do is get rid of it."

The idea that hourly employees sign a nondisclosure agreement drew ire from employees, as well as labor groups. "Workers should be allowed to receive a full severance package without conditions of signing away their rights," Gretchen Wilson, an organizer with the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, told the New York Times.

Amazon.com is still asking employees to sign the agreement, but said that the nondisclosure clause could be deleted. Employees who do not sign the agreement will receive only the standard two-weeks severance pay.

The layoffs and product trimming is part of the etailer's strategy to turn a profit by the fourth quarter of this year.

At press time, the company's stock was trading at $15.31, down by 0.94.

*Carol King covers e-commerce news for internetnews.com, a property of internet.com.